Case studies

Big first steps at the Cottage Kindergarten

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The Cottage Kindergarten begins their journey!

Invercargill early learning service, The Cottage Kindergarten, has earnt a well-deserved bronze ‘Rito’ Healthy Heart Award from the Heart Foundation in recognition of its efforts towards creating a heart-healthy environment.

The Healthy Heart Award programme acknowledges and values the long-lasting healthy changes made by The Cottage Kindergarten. To achieve this award, the kindergarten updated their cooked lunches menu, introduced new snacks for morning and afternoon tea.

The also created opportunities for active play such as yoga, bush kindy and working in the vegetable garden, with a visit from Black Fern, Alena Saili, providing the children with a great active role model.

“Taking part in the Healthy Heart Award has enabled us to look at our menus and make some changes. The children are enjoying lots of new foods like sushi, and wraps. We have continued to offer lots of opportunities to learn about growing our own vegetables and incorporating lots of active movement in our programme. We are now working towards the gold level.” Says Mary Fensom, teacher.

Kate Stratford, Heart Foundation Nutrition Advisor, says she is thrilled to see the progress made by The Cottage Kindergarten.

“Establishing healthy habits in the early years provides children with a strong foundation for good health and well-being throughout their lives. The Cottage Kindergarten has done a great job taking these first steps towards creating a heart-healthy environment and are committed to continuing on their journey towards achieving a gold ‘Pā-Harakeke’ Healthy Heart Award in the future.”                                


In photo Jerome Ward (4), Mary Fensom, Lucas Warnock (4)

Milford Kindy making sustainable changes!

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Milford Kindy making sustainable changes!

Milford Kindergarten recently received their Third Pā-Harakeke Healthy Heart Award and appear to have created a culture in their centre that lends itself to perpetual Gold Award achievement. Educator Amanda Bowen shares the scientific way that the children are engaging in healthy eating experiences.

-     Milford Kindergarten’s teaching has strong biology leanings.  How did you come up with these ideas? 

I remember Mum always talking about the natural world, anatomy, digestion, respiration, and circulation. I must have really enjoyed listening to her because I have remained interested in those subjects for many years.  Now that I am a kindergarten teacher, I enjoy sharing these interests with children and whānau.

At work, our philosophy focusses on well-being, nature, sustainability, and kaitiakitanga and is a great fit for my own values. For example, we regularly facilitate a ‘Kai Moana Experience’ which I regard as a strong example of integrated learning, incorporating hauora, science, technology, mathematics, and literacy into a very interactive activity that could appeal to many children. Thanks to Devonport Kindergarten for first sharing this experience with me nine years ago.

-     You use quite confronting hands-on methods in your learning, e.g. fish and worm digestive systems. 

 How do the children react to these methods? 

Kai Moana Experience

Before the children arrive, we arrange whole fish, filleted fish, bivalves, cephalopods etc. on trays of salt-ice.

Those children that show interest are invited to look at the fish and spend time finding out more about them. The children’s most asked question is, “Can I touch it?”.

First we removing the edible fillets, before encouraging them to handle the fish, examining and feeling the lips, teeth, tongue, gills, guts, tails and scales. Some children, and whānau hold their noses and move away, others hold their noses and come to take a closer look. We get loads of comments like, “Kindy’s a bit on the nose this morning”, or, “Something fishy’s going on at kindy today”. 

Some children appear to find the fish confronting, and often we see whānau supporting their children’s learning by recalling past events, “Can you tell Amanda how many fish you caught with Grandad?”, or by enabling the child to touch by holding the child’s hands in theirs and discussing their own knowledge and experiences with the children. Throughout the morning we continue to talk about digestion, respiration, and circulation, linking what we notice to our own bodily experiences. Often we use books, internet video, or whānau knowledge to extend what we are learning.

The activity concludes with the children washing and cutting the fillets into fish fingers, and preparing the prawns and squid, before frying or steaming them ready to share at morning tea. We use the fish heads and skeleton to make fresh fish stock, which we either freeze or share with whānau. Nothing is wasted, even the intestines etc. go into our bokashi system to recycle.

-     What have been some of the children’s learning outcomes, in line with your Pa-Harakeke Gold award this time around?

Learning outcomes stemming from this activity are varied according to the interests and engagement of individuals. For example, mana atua/well-being is supported through promotion of hauora, healthy lifestyle, healthy food production and consumption. Children experience opportunities to express confidence, independence, self-help and self-care skills relating to food preparation. Knowledge of bodily systems is increased through hands-on exploration and teina/tuākana knowledge sharing. Through these activities we are able to reinforce the tikanga of kaitiakitanga, as we teach and learn about conserving, preserving and protecting nature through interactive learning activities.

-     What has been the feedback from parents?

I believe that this is the kind of teaching and learning that creates boundless curiosity and an enduring interest in the natural world. Today a parent commented, “This stuff really makes me want to be a kindy teacher”… “Me too!”

Making a show of the Healthy Heart Award

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Showing off at the Cheviot Show!

Little Oaks Preschool in Cheviot is over-the-moon to receive their Rito (Bronze) Healthy Heart Award. Since signing up to work towards their Rito Award in August 2017, Little Oaks Cheviot has recorded all the ways they incorporate healthy nutrition and physical activity into their daily programme.

“The Healthy Heart Award has enabled us to celebrate and reinforce already-present aspects of our current programme, like outdoor education, edible gardens and physical challenges and exercise” says Little Oaks teacher Nic Hiatt.

Little Oaks Cheviot has encouraged fantastic whānau and community engagement throughout their Healthy Heart Award journey.

“We were able to involve whānau through healthy-eating guides, shared kai contributions, our 'Big Heart Day', and our involvement in the Cheviot Show” Says Nic.

Every year, the Cheviot Agricultural and Pastoral Show (A&P) invites local schools and ECE to run a stall to show the community what they’re up to! This year, Little Oaks Cheviot decided to make the focus of their stall about the Healthy Heart Award.

The time and energy that Little Oaks Cheviot put into their stall is really impressive. . They showed the many aspects they have worked on over the past year – their drawings and reflections about one of their favourite books, Eat your greens, Goldilocks!, their shared produce basket, which encourages whānau to share their spare produce with each other , and a Healthy Heart karakia, which was developed especially for their Healthy Heart Award.

Nic also says “The Cheviot Show 2018 was a wonderful way to be able to celebrate our current learning and achievement of our Healthy Heart Award with the wider community. We have loved embarking on our Healthy Heart Award journey, strengthening our environment to ensure the promotion of healthy eating and physical activity.”

“Our focus is for children in our centre to develop and demonstrate confidence independence, knowledge, and positive attitudes towards self-help, and care skills relating to food preparation, healthy eating and drinking, hygiene, resting and sleeping– instilling a foundation for healthy and positive lifelong habits.”

Healthy Heart Award Nutrition Advisor, Mikaela Battaerd, says it’s been a pleasure supporting Little Oaks Cheviot to gain their Healthy Heart Award.

“Their energy and passion for healthy living is fantastic. I have enjoyed all my visits to Cheviot to see them. I am looking forward to watching them progress to higher levels of their Healthy Heart Award,” says Mikaela.